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Arts Playlist: DCCA exec. director makes the case for STEAM over STEM

Photo courtesy: Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts

The arts have long been recognized as an important part of a well-rounded education but when it comes to budget priorities, school arts programs are often the first to be cut.


As Delaware embarks on a new school year, arts advocates are urging educators to promote critical thinking through art.  


John Shipman, Executive Director for the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts says it's proven effective with the DCCA’s arts education programs.


“We may pair an artist with a science teacher and they’ll come up with a lesson plan that will work in the classroom, teaching the kids whatever the topic is for science but with an arts bent to it, same thing with math, same thing with engineering.”


STEM education, science, technology, engineering and math, gets a lot of attention these days but arts advocates say don't forget the A, for STEAM.


Proponents say the goal is to foster the true innovation that comes with combining the mind of a scientist with that of an artist or designer.


Shipman says organizations like the DCCA can help support that mission in an environment where schools are trimming arts programs.


“We will all acknowledge that creative education, education centered around the arts and all of their disciplines are so incredibly important to the health of a child as they’re growing and developing but it's always the first thing that we cut,” he says. “We’re the ones that can step in and fill that hole.”  


The DCCA will host an Educator’s Open House Thursday in Wilmington. More information is available at


This piece is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.